It’s long been recognised that comicbooks reflect the psyche of the age. Where movie scriptwriters have their hands bound by the will and political machinations of the Illuminati-style studio owners (I’m exaggerating slightly here), the comicbook writer has an unprecedented level of freedom. The stories they tell say much about the state of the word that surrounds us.
Just take a look at the comics that have come from Marvel and DC in recent years. We’ve had the death of America’s freedom (represented by none other that Captain America himself) as a result of the Rule of Law and politically mandated paranoia. We’ve seen Spider-man willingly re-writing history, the destruction of the X-Men Mansion – itself a symbol of tolerance, freedom and acceptance of folks not like us.
All the way through the comics we’re seeing a desire to reboot. Batman is “dead”, and likely to be replaced with a new face under the mask. It’s far from the first time that Bruce Wayne’s demise has been used as a metaphor for change – just check out the classic Dark Knight graphic novel, and think on the spirit of the age that birthed it. It’s no coincidence that the classic comics of the Reagan age – Dark Knight and Watchmen – have been retold for the Now. Back then, the story in the Dark Knight was clear-cut with Superman (and a simulated heart attack) “killing” Batman, leading for the freedom-fighting Batman and his allies to take the fight underground. The moral was simple; you can’t kill freedom. Compare that with the death of Captain America; nowadays, it seems, you can. It happened.
Over to Batman RIP which came to a close in Batman 681. The story is a muddy one full of lies and counter-lies where we’re left none the wiser about what’s the truth. The Black Glove claims to be Bruce Wayne’s father, a darker, much more sinister guy than we’ve been led to believe for the past decades. Whether it’s good writing or not (here’s a hint: it’s not), the story itself says much about where the US stands in history. In the tale, the web of lies dares to hint that the Big Evil is none other than the very core of Batman’s being. It’s not a huge leap to recognise there’s a metaphor in there for the Big Evil at the core of the current US Government, with freedoms and liberties being destroyed on epic proportions. The US President should stand – like Bruce’s father – as an inviolate figure, unquestionably good. This story, like Bush, tarnishes that image and brings in into question. In comparison, the other villains in the tale (themselves metaphors for the terrorists of the world) are seen as dangerous but ineffectual and incompetent puppets of the Black Glove. Draw your own conclusions there.
With the end of the story arc, we’re left in anticipation of what’s to come. There’s a new face under the mask and hopefully the lies are a thing of the past. We can look forward to a new era. In the Real Word, that’s entirely up to Obama. One thing is for sure though.
The comicbook writers will be watching.